When it comes to SD card performance, we typically expect to see speeds typical of the industry standard of 90 MB/s. You can imagine the look on our faces when we receive a SD card that advertises read speeds of up to 280 MB/s. Ok, so maybe our jaws were touching the floor. That is exactly what happened when the SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-II Card showed up at our front door.
Our report today will examine and test the SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC card as it makes fluid use of the newest UHS-II standard, as well as the SanDisk Extreme PRO SD card reader. Let’s take a closer look and see how SanDisk has created the fastest SD card family in the world.
UNDERSTANDING SD CARD PERFORMANCE
First, there are a few acronyms and short forms that follow the name of the SD card. Some of you may not know what they mean, some of you may. So, let’s run through it quickly to keep everyone on the same page.
SD, SDHC and SDXC speak to the cards available capacity first and foremost. When considering the size necessary for your photography or videography, your storage device will be your ultimate determinant. Obviously a flash card with a lower capacity will hold less videos and photos, which is pretty straight forward. If you have an SD (Secure Digital) card, you are probably going to want to upgrade that shortly, as that is an older technology that accompanied the first digital photography and videography devices. With it, you will find not only lower capacities, but slower transfer speeds.
To go the next step up to a more prevalent storage option, especially for photography enthusiasts and weekend photo shoots, is SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity). SDHC cards can allow for capacities of up to 32GB, and transfer speeds of up to 42 MB/s. If you are looking to shoot video in a higher resolution, then you will find yourself looking one step further with SDXC (Secure Digital Xtended Capacity). SDXC can allow for capacities greater than 32GB, and have a maximum write speed of up to 95 MB/s.
If you are interested more in videography, than the next acronym is your key point to look for, especially if you are worried about transfer speeds. If you have a flash card handy, take a look at it, you may notice that there is a number that has a circle around it. This is your class rating, which denotes the guaranteed minimum write speed. To give you an example if you have a ’4′ within your circle, your flash card is guaranteed to write at a minimum of 4 MB/s. When you start to get up to higher minimum write speeds, you will notice that the number will not increase past ’10′, instead the denotation changes to UHS-1, or a U with a ’1′ or a ’3′ within it. ‘Ultra High Speed 1′ would guarantee minimum write speeds of 10 MB/s and UHS-1 Speed Class 3 would denote minimum speeds of 30 MB/s. If your DSLR or video camera is not capable of UHS-1, than the flash card will revert back to Class 10 performance.
UHS-II is the newest ultra high-speed memory card standard and accounts for speeds just above 150MB/s through single lane access and over 300MB/s for dual lane.
Take a look at the back of the SD card … notice anything different? The typical set of SD Card contacts that are usually found on the top of the SD card’s back, have mutated. There is an additional set of contacts below the ‘typical’ set of contacts now accounting for this dual lane access; the new set of contacts work exclusively with those high-speed UHS-II signals. The SanDisk Extreme PRO SD card is available in 16, 32 and 64 GB capacities, which is your typical set of available consumer capacities. A quick check of Amazon shows that the 16 GB version is available to be purchased for $73.95, the 32GB at $124.95 and the 64GB at $229.95.
The SanDisk SD card is listed to reach read speeds of up to 280 MB/s, and write speeds can reach up to 250 MB/s. Ok, I’ll let you catch your breath before we continue … These performance specifications are ridiculous! It’s completely unheard of that a SD card could reach such high scores. To think, were inching closer and closer to SSD performance potential in a unit that is roughly 1/16th the size of a SSD. Add to that the fact that the SanDisk Extreme Pro is shockproof, x-ray proof and waterproof and, unbelievably, comes with a lifetime limited warranty, and this card is crafting its own place in the world.
To reach these higher transfer speeds, you would need to use a specific USB 3.0 card reader (and motherboard capable of SuperSpeed) to get the full potential. With our test bench we utilized the SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-II SD Reader/Writer. This is a simple plug-and-play device that you will connect into your USB 3.0 port on your system, and insert your flash card to transfer content. The SanDisk Extreme PRO card reader is specially designed for this memory card, as it can reach those extra set of contacts that we have discussed previously.
Additionally, the Extreme PRO SD Card reader is backwards compatible to USB 2.0. This means that if your USB port on your computer is not blue in colour, then you can still use the drive. You will just receive that annoying notification from Windows letting you know that the drive can perform faster in a USB 3.0 port.If your computer is not equipped with the latest USB technology, then we encourage you to have a look at our report of the HighPoint 4-Port HBA. This PCIe expansion card easily allows you to add four additional USB ports to your system, as well as the addition of USB 3.0 technology.